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Author Topic: High LSAT/Low GPA - My story  (Read 12237 times)

hunterhogan

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Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - How AdComms See You
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2005, 11:45:28 AM »
When I first applied to the schools, I thought that the admissions committees would be able to see past my 2.19 and that many of them would consider admitting me.

In March, I had a conversation with the director of admissions at one of the schools to which I applied, and she told me I was wrong. Basically, there is a good chance that admissions personnel can understand my GPA, but that faculty will almost never understand.

Different schools have different admissions procedures. I will almost certainly be rejected by the schools that have all applications reviewed by a committee mostly made up of faculty. However, I have a much better chance at schools were the admissions officers make the majority of the decisions.

For example, Rutgers-Camden admitted me the same day that my application was complete. I think (but did not check) that this was because my application never went to committee. I think that an admissions officer saw that I could do well and just let me in.

Here is a better example. This is how I think (again, I don’t know for sure) the early admissions process works at Georgetown. I think that early admissions applications are initially reviewed by only the admissions officers. They place everyone into three groups - yes, no, and maybe. The yes and no groups get accepted or denied. The maybe group gets “deferred” and goes to committee. I got deferred and then rejected. I think that the admissions officers saw that I had potential, but that the committee (which had faculty) thought I wouldn’t be able to cut it at Georgetown.

If I had to do the whole process over again, I would do two things differently. One, I would call every school that I was interested in and ask them about their review process. For the schools that let admissions officers make many decisions I would be more likely to apply. The schools that have lots of faculty on the AdComm would make me less likely to apply. Two, I would apply to many more schools earlier in the process. With my numbers and story, it is impossible to predict who is going to accept me (except some schools like Cooley). By applying to more schools, I will have more choices. I am very lucky that Chicago-Kent and Rutgers-Camden accepted me; I was disappointed with my choices until that point.

On a related note, get fee waivers! With a high LSAT score, many schools will waive your application fee. Also, if you don’t make much money, LSAC has a standardized form that you can use to request a fee waiver from schools. There is no point paying for application fees when you don’t have to.

hunterhogan

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Re: High LSAT/Low GPA - New PS
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2005, 09:26:36 PM »
I wrote my original PS in Oct 04. I didn’t want to write a PS that was about overcoming obstacles, but I knew it was a powerful theme. If I did write from that perspective, then it would help to explain my low GPA. So, I tried to be clever; I mentioned the topics I could have used and then didn’t use them. This was a silly idea. It placed a lot of emphasis on my low grades, didn’t explain them, and wasted a page of my PS.

Over the next few months, I found this board and worked on my application to the Chicago-Kent Honors Program. I devised the following:

1. Write one simple, factual page explaining my academic history (this was a modification of “Notes about my Academic Summary” another post in this thread)
2. Write one page that explains what qualities I have that will help me to be successful in law school (“Filling the Void: Indicators of my Success” another post in this thread)
3. Write my PS with the mindset that I earned a 3.5 GPA from the University of Texas (another post in this thread)

If the AdComm does not believe that I have the capacity to do well in law school by time they read my PS, then I will not get in. It was important that I use the supplemental materials to prove that I can succeed in law school. The PS is to separate me from the other people that can do well, not to prove that I can do well.

hunterhogan

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Re: My addendum explaining my low GPA
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2005, 09:39:17 PM »
Filling the Void: Indicators of My Success
Using validated studies from LSAC, a school can moderately predict first year grades from an applicant’s LSAT score and standardized GPA. Since my GPA does not fall into the guidelines of the studies that LSAC conducted, it is not a reliable predictor of my grades. (Recall that my GPA is atypical because it incorporates grades from high school and because of the many un-graded hours from Excelsior.) I can fill this void with other indicators of my success.

I submit that a first-year student with strengths in all of the following areas will be successful in law school:
  • Intellectual capacity
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-awareness
  • Comfort with the law school grading system
  • Excellence in competitive environments
  • Strong motivation

If you examine my accomplishments, then you will find that I have all of the above qualities.

Intellectual Capacity
I have strong analytical and problem-solving skills as evidenced by my successful career troubleshooting computers. My ability to acquire and use knowledge in a wide array of fields helped me to succeed as a business owner, at a Fortune 500 company, and at a startup company in fields as diverse as interior design, computer hardware, and healthcare staffing.

Self-discipline
From June 2003 to September 2004, I took nine exams for credit. For the most difficult of these exams, I studied an average of 35 hours per week for five months (for only this exam). During this time, I was also working full-time. I had the self-discipline to pass this exam and all of the other exams with no outside direction.

Self-awareness
A student that is aware of his strengths can more efficiently capitalize on them than a student that is unaware. More importantly, a student that knows his limitations and weaknesses is much more likely to seek assistance than a student that is not self-aware. For example, when I was teaching computer classes, I lacked a complete understanding of educational theory. In our small company, we had a veteran schoolteacher, and I worked closely with her to learn more about how to be an effective instructor.

Grades
I have taken thirteen certification exams and five college exams that are very similar to the law school experience. In each of these cases, I studied the material at length and took only one test.

Competition
There is a multi-million dollar professional circuit for a strategy card-game called Magic: The Gathering. For almost two years, I played this intellectual sport professionally. Besides being the North American champion, I was the first person to play the game as my sole means of income.

Motivation
My motivation for applying to law school is straightforward – I want to study law and I would like to teach at the college level. My thirst for knowledge will propel me through most of law school, and my pragmatic goals will bring me through the rest.

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Re: My addendum explaining my low GPA
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2005, 10:06:09 PM »
 Wow. You def. stayed focused. Congrats. You worked hard for it.

hunterhogan

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Re: My addendum explaining my low GPA
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2005, 10:15:56 AM »
Nice job, no wonder you got into so many schools! Your gonna be a great lawyer for sure.
Wow. You def. stayed focused. Congrats. You worked hard for it.

Thanks!

hunterhogan

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My new PS
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2005, 11:50:48 AM »
Tour Guides and Trailblazers
Most leaders are tour guides covering familiar terrain. Their predictable speeches and their conventional routes teach us in a comfortable way. Without them, each generation would repeat the same mistakes and chaos would be king. Nevertheless, we also need trailblazers; we need leaders that challenge convention and show us new paths. My past experiences and my future plans show that I am a trailblazer.

My mother is an interior designer and I grew up working in her business. So, it was natural for my wife and me to open our own interior design business serving the booming new housing market in Houston. To differentiate ourselves from the extensive competition, I introduced various financing programs. Our “90 days same as cash” program was so successful that all of our competitors copied the program within six months. This and other innovations helped to contribute to the success of our business.

In 1993, a new game was released called Magic: the Gathering. Although the original premise was to create a fantasy-based card game, it quickly became a sophisticated strategy game like chess or bridge. Hasbro now prints it in seven languages and millions of people worldwide play at over 80,000 official tournaments each year. I started playing in 1994 and won enough tournaments to make a living. Traveling around the country playing in tournaments and improving my strategies lead to my winning the North American Championship. This allowed me to write strategy articles and have a sponsor. I was the first person to play the game professionally partly because I was able to perceive opportunities and solutions where many other people did not perceive them.

The technology behind the World Wide Web was invented in 1993 and entrepreneurs were using this technology to pioneer new business concepts. I learned this new technology and in 1996, went to work for a healthcare staffing company. The marketing manager at this company was very progressive and had created their initial website himself. He hired me to maintain and expand the website he had created. While the website was functional, it had some drawbacks and it limited our ability to find new healthcare workers on the Web. After only two weeks, I proposed that we completely redesign the website; I prepared a prototype of the new design and explained the advantages of adopting my idea. Over the next year, the website progressed from generating 5% of the new employment applications to 40%. The changes and the positive results that followed were primarily due to my problem-solving skills.

A few years later, I felt that I was not a well-rounded person because I spent most of my day working on logical problems. I was satisfied with my rational abilities, but I felt emotionally underdeveloped. I decided to take a job at a quality restaurant to learn more about the epicurean arts and to improve my social skills. My family questioned if I would be able to handle working as a waiter. However, my adaptability and desire to improve myself helped me to learn enough about food and people to be successful in this new environment.

A natural extension of my desire to improve myself is the desire to help other people make their own changes. When given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to teach computer certifications at a small vocational school. My students were typically unskilled workers, with poor reading and math skills, and they hoped to find a better job by earning computer certifications. Most of them had to balance 20 hours of class a week, additional reading at home, their family, and a full-time job. Furthermore, approximately 30% of my students spoke English as a second language. When I started at the school, our dropout rate was close to 50%. I had a hard time reconciling the burning desire of our students and the thousands of dollars they were spending with the poor completion rate. I felt that we could do more to help them, so I turned to a member of our staff who was a former schoolteacher. She showed  me educational theory and practical teaching skills. With this knowledge, I completely redesigned the curriculum, created hands-on labs, and offered my students self-assessment exams. Learning to create labs and curricula challenged me to use new methods and mediums for communication. Additionally, I worked with each student on a personal basis to help him or her stay focused and optimistic. With the help of others in the school, the dropout rate for my students was 5%. I feel that my communication skills and my ability to motivate others helped me to be an effective instructor.

In the months prior to the Iraq war, I was distressed not only by the decision to go to war, but also by the process we used to make that decision. I started writing articles and posting them on my website, www.HunterThinks.com, as a way to share my views of the situation and the process. I never thought that I would stop the war, but I hoped that I would help temper the war mongering and decrease the likelihood of future wars. I have a strong desire to contribute to others, and I would like to be able to do this in my work and not just as a hobby.

To be a successful trailblazer one must have the vision to know where a trail could be and not be limited by where the trail currently is. Over the last few years, I have identified many issues and ideas I would like to research. The following are some of the issues that I could learn more about by studying law.

Many researchers are publishing about the connection between poverty and violence, and world leaders are beginning to notice. For example, the UN recently published the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. They cite an interesting study that linked the likelihood of civil war to the gross domestic product per capita of a nation. I would like to study how laws and treaties promote and prevent poverty.

I would like to study the current ways that our government collects taxes and appropriates expenditures. I want to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the current system and explore alternatives. Specifically, I suspect that eliminating the general fund and tying all appropriations to specific taxes will have a profound effect on the way government spends money. There are obvious logistical problems with this idea, but it may focus debates on individual issues instead of having a general debate about deficits and surpluses.
For the last few decades, people have criticized voter apathy in the United States. I feel that a portion of the voter apathy can be linked to our highly centralized government. Local elections are relatively unimportant because virtually all issues in local government are heavily influenced at the state and federal level. For example, voting for a new city council member will probably not have a real impact on the efficiency of your local government. I want to study the advantages and disadvantages of centralized government and examine ways to get more citizens involved in government.

One of the most significant aspects of our legal system is the concept of checks-and-balances. My current understanding is that the system is mostly horizontal - the different branches regulate each other, and somewhat vertical - the federal government regulates the lower governments. I would like to understand how the system could be made significantly more vertical. It seems to me that individual citizens, local governments, and state governments should all have effective ways to check the power of the other levels of government. There are some mechanisms currently in place (e.g. lawsuits), but I would like to explore more extensive and more efficient methods.

I would like to study the connections between education, poverty, and crime. Publicly funded education was a major contributor to America’s economic success yet it remains a lightning rod for controversy. Increasing access to education has often been shown to lower crime rates in communities, but we rarely debate education as an issue of crime prevention. I would like to understand how the education system is currently legislated and explore changes to improve access to education.

Law school is an important and necessary step for me to understand these issues. To quench my thirst for knowledge, I will need to study fields such as education, sociology, economics, and political science. And to fulfill my desire to make positive changes in my community, I will need to propose changes in the law. I would like to learn about the law now, so that I may study all of these issues from the perspective of the legal system.

I am a trailblazing leader. I am innovative, adaptable, perceptive, and a good motivator; I have a strong desire to improve myself and contribute to others; I have strong problem solving and communication skills. Most importantly, I have a clear vision of where I want to go.

hunterhogan

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Re: My new PS - tell me what you think
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2005, 12:04:21 PM »
Schools that only saw my old PS:
  • University of Houston - Rejected
  • Texas - Rejected
  • George Washington - Rejected
  • Miami - Rejected
  • UC-Boulder - Rejected
  • Yale - Rejected
  • Valparaiso - Waitlisted
  • DePaul - Accepted
  • Cooley - Accepted
  • Florida Coastal - Accepted

Schools that saw both my new and old PS
  • Harvard - Rejected
  • George Mason - Waitlisted
  • San Diego - Waitlisted
  • South Texas - Accepted
  • NIU - Accepted

Schools that only saw my new PS
  • Oklahoma - Rejected
  • Illinois - Waitlisted
  • Rutgers - Camden - Accepted
  • Arkansas - Fayetteville - Accepted
  • Denver - Accepted
  • Quinnipiac - Accepted
  • Chicago- Kent - Accepted

I think my second attempt at the addendums and PS was much better than my first attempt.

Georgetown only saw my first PS. I recently sent this new one in and asked them to reconsider. I have not heard back yet.

Perversely

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Re: My new PS - tell me what you think
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2005, 08:31:44 AM »
hunter, this is a most thoughtful thread...thank you.  i think it also shows people that adcomms DO read personal statements.

cheers!

EvieO

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Re: My new PS - tell me what you think
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2005, 11:04:54 AM »
This thread proves that you have the ability and perserverance to succeed no matter where you attend law school.  Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

hunterhogan

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Re: My new PS - tell me what you think
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2005, 06:35:23 PM »
This thread proves that you have the ability and perserverance to succeed no matter where you attend law school.  Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

You are the second poster to say something like this. I didn't realize that I put more effort into this process than other people, but maybe I did. Certainly, if I had not continued to refine my application, I would be attending South Texas or DePaul instead of Chicago-Kent. Although some people on this board don't see this as a step up, it is for me.

I did hear from Georgetown today. They rejected my reconsideration. Oh well, I had to try.

I still have to talk about the last part of the application process. I wrote letters of interest to many of the schools. It was a complex letter, and I'll talk about it soon. I am not sure how much it helped; I haven't analyzed the results yet.